It is no surprise that Russian ambassador to Thailand Kirill Barsky rejects accusations that his government is responsible for the poisoning in the UK of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. After all, the ambassador is only doing his job in defending and supporting his country’s reputation and interests. However, Mr Barsky suggests that we think for ourselves in trying to identify the real culprits, so let’s do that.
So far, the evidence of Russian government involvement seems to be circumstantial, but it is almost entirely the fault of President Putin and his administration that the finger of suspicion is pointing in their direction. There is an odious track record of elimination of those who fall foul of the system, or become too outspoken in their criticism of President Putin, with assassinations of politicians, journalists, oligarchs and defectors in Russia and elsewhere. No doubt the sleuths at Scotland Yard and MI5 are gathering evidence to prove whether or not the Salisbury outrage really is another example of that vile policy.
Some in Russia have suggested that the British government staged the attack in order to tarnish Russia’s reputation, but British governments don’t let loose lethal doses of highly toxic nerve agents on the streets of British cities, and in any case it is not in Britain’s interests for relations with Russia to deteriorate any further. Due to the hopeless energy policy of successive governments, Britain is now dependent on imported Russian gas, and a recent newspaper report stated that, if these supplies were cut off, the country would be “four meals away from anarchy”.
Ambassador Barsky describes accusations of Russian involvement in the Salisbury attack as “fake news”. I would therefore be really interested to know how His Excellency views the recent claim by President Putin, when he faced questions about Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, that any such meddling might have been carried out by Russian minorities such as Jews, Tatars or Ukrainians. Explaining away that comment would really test the ambassador’s diplomatic skills.